Campus & Community

TechGarage hires PBSC students as robotics coaches

PBSC student Zarius Knighten coaches a club member at the Smith and Moore Family Teen Center of the Glades.

Several PBSC students were recently hired by TechGarage, a robotics program at FAU Tech Runway®, as robotics coaches for elementary-and middle-school-age members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County.

The $15 an hour positions were made possible by the Department of Education, which awarded the Boys & Girls Clubs a 21st-Century Community Learning Center Grant to expand the TechGarage program to club sites in the Glades area.

PBSC students from the Belle Glade campus and other campuses coach Boys & Girls Club members each week at various locations including Pioneer Park, Glades View and Belle Glade elementary schools and the Smith and Moore Family Teen Center of the Glades.

“Our partnership with TechGarage and PBSC is extremely beneficial for local Boys & Girls Clubs,” said Lotus Holem, director of programming for Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County. “It’s helping our club members learn the newest technological innovations and engage in college-level work. They are having a blast building robots, using cutting-edge technology and competing with their peers. It also provides employers with access to a new talent network in the Glades area and gives PBSC students rewarding new opportunities to grow in their leadership skills.”

The robotics coaches include students Zavius Knighten and Derlin Collazo and Learning Specialist OD Oliver, all from the Belle Glade campus. Other Belle Glade students who will soon be hired are Paul Small, Prajedes Sanchez, Moises Cortez and Rose Hyppolite.

PBSC employee OD Oliver coaches a club member at Pioneer Park Elementary School.

Brandon Ladron and Griffin McDonald, who attend other PBSC campuses, also work as robotics coaches through TechGarage at clubs in Palm Beach County.

Dr.  LaTanya McNeal, executive dean of the Belle Glade campus, shared her enthusiasm regarding the partnership. “We appreciate the partnership with TechGarage and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County for providing Belle Glade campus students and staff with this tremendous opportunity. Palm Beach State College students are poised to give back to their community by mentoring youth and teaching elementary and middle school students how to build robots while also expanding not only their STEM skills, but also their leadership, perseverance, critical thinking and teamwork skills, which will be vital in the job market. We are inspiring and developing tomorrow’s engineers in the Glades community.”

Before being selected, the students and employee had to undergo a computer programming test through CodeCombat.com which measured their aptitude and interest.

Representatives from the organizations, including TechGarage CEO Scooter Willis and Vice President of Operations for the Boys & Girls Clubs Steven Cornette, spoke more about the partnership during the Belle Glade campus Innovation Showcase May 21.

During the event, representatives showcased students’ skills in Python programming and held demonstrations in laser cutting, 3D printing and youth soldering. Tours of the campus were also given to business and community leaders to exhibit how the campus is using technology.

For more information about TechGarage, located within the Research Park at Florida Atlantic University, visit www.tech-garage.org. For more information on the Boys & Girls Club, visit www.bgcpbc.org.

To view photos of the Belle Glade campus Innovation Showcase, click on the image below.

Belle Glade campus Innovation Showcase May 21, 2019

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